In spite of his ignorance

Van Dyke Parks, the eternal odd man out, finally comes out to play

The Parks-Wilson collaborations for Smile are some of the weirdest pieces of music ever put together--these brilliantly subversive things like "Vegetables" ("I'm gonna eat all my vegetables"), the Hoagy Carmichael-esque "Cabinessence," the wacky "Heroes and Villains," the oddly titled "Do You Like Worms," and the heartbreakingly magnificent "Wonderful." They're timeless pieces--the death of the Beach Boys as the voice of summer and the birth of Brian Wilson as the voice of bummer: "Pet Sounds on 20 tabs of acid," as Hoskins writes.

Wilson could not have done it without Parks, and as Orange Crate Art would prove 30 years later, theirs remains an imperfect yet infallible partnership built upon the frail ego of misunderstood genius. As Parks wrote and as Wilson sang on "Movies is Magic" from Orange Crate Art: "When you're living in your dreams/And you wake up/It's over."

"As I get older, I see that my music is to entertain," Parks says, shifting in place and looking at the floor as if to find an answer. "This is very hard to talk about. This is why I make music: It is basically to entertain. But you know there is something secret about it all beneath that jest, that veneer of...this...uh..." Parks' voice trails off as he searches for the right words.

"I would like the music to serve as a social force," he continues suddenly, hopping back on the train of thought. "I'm not sure if that means I want to tell people how to vote or whether they should smoke grass. I've never done that. And my embarrassment with Christianity is that there is a mission in it, and that's to convert someone who isn't a Christian, and I don't have those persuasions. I can't do that. But I do know that music could be a force for improving all experience, and that's what I want it to be.

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